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Greater Flint African American Sports Hall of Fame inductees serving as an inspiration to community

By Tanya Terry

Source: Greater Flint African American Sports Hall of Fame 37th Annual Induction Ceremony program book

The Greater Flint African American Sports Hall of Fame 37th Annual Induction Ceremony recently took place at Genesys Banquet and Conference Center, in Grand Blanc. Eight accomplished athletes from the area received the honor of being inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2023. Many of the inductees attended the recent ceremony and spoke to the Courier about the way they hope their own success as an athlete will inspire others in the Flint community.

Anthony “Tony” Holliday was one of the Flint area’s most successful high school coaches for over three decades before continuing his coaching career in college.

Notable players Holliday has coached throughout his career include WNBA player Tonya Edwards and former Michigan State basketball players Marquise Gray and Mateen Cleaves.

Holliday was also a five-time Flint Area Coach of the Year winner.

Anthony “Tony” Holliday

“I didn’t get into the coaching profession to be a Hall of Fame coach,” Holliday stated. “My number one priority was to be the best coach that I could to the players that I had the fortunes of coaching.”

Timothy Littles was born in Flint and found great success as an amateur boxer before turning professional in 1989.

Littles won his first 17 professional fights and then won the USBA super middleweight title against Antoine Byrd in 1992. He defended his title twice.

Littles finished his professional boxing career with a record of 27 wins, 18 knockouts and only three losses.

Timothy Littles speaks at the Greater Flint African American Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony,

Kimberly Littles, a family member of Timothy Littles, said it is important for youth to have positive role models, such as sports figures from the area.

“I think it gives the younger people that are looking up to this person an idea of what can be achieved,” said Kimberly Littles. “It opens up an area that possibly they never thought would be available to them.”

Kelvin Torbert is one of the greatest basketball players the Flint area has ever produced.

In 2001, Torbert was named the Sporting News Player of the Year, Gatorade National Boys Basketball Player of the Year, USA Today First-Team All-American, Parade Magazine All-American and a McDonald’s All-American.

In 2003, he helped lead the Spartans to an appearance in the Elite Eight and earned All-Big 10 honors in 2004.

Greater Flint African American Sports Hall of Fame member David Gibson (left) and Kelvin Torbert (right)

Torbert, who grew up on Flint’s north side in the Northwestern area, said he feels he has proven a person can do whatever is in their heart to do. He seeks to continue to tell young people, who he feels relate well to him, they can be “shining stars” regardless of what neighborhood they are from.

Yvonne Thompson-Seals emerged as one of Flint Northern’s best players in the playoffs in 1981.

During her career at Northern, Thompson was named to the All-State, All-Valley and All-City teams multiple times.

She continued her academic and athletic career at Iowa State and eventually Western Michigan University.

While at WMU, she was selected to the All-Mid-American Conference team in 1988, and in the same season led her team with 264 rebounds.

Yvonne Thompson and Greater Flint African American Sports Fall of Fame member David Gibson

“We need a lot more mentors today compared to when I was growing up,” Thompson stated. “There were mentors that paved the path to tell me I would be something and be somebody.”

Thompson would like to motivate today’s youth in the same way.

Andre “Moon” Wiley began his athletic journey at Flint Southwestern High School, where he was a prolific scorer.

Wiley continued his academic and basketball career at Compton Community College in California, where he became a two-time California Junior College Player of the Year winner.

After his sophomore season, he transferred to the University of Oklahoma. In 1988, he helped lead the Oklahoma Sooners to an appearance in the National Championship game. He was also winner of the first-ever NCAA Dunk Contest.

Andre “Moon” Wiley

Wiley talked to the Courier about how hard he feels it is to get nominated for honors like being inducted into the Greater Flint African American Hall of Fame.

Wiley told the Courier, however, he feels it’s positive for young people to be able to look up to athletes from their area, rather than drug dealers.

Former Professional and International Basketball player Marty Embry and Former NFL Players Fernando Smith and Robaire Smith are also 2023 Greater Flint African American Sports Hall of Fame inductees but were unable to attend the ceremony.

Norm Bryant, founder of the Greater Flint African American Hall of Fame, feels this year’s inductees are “blazing the trail for the younger people coming along.”

“They need someone to look up to,” he added. “They are talking about cutting out our history from the schools. But we need this type of history for our youth. I think it will make for a better Flint.”

Anyone can be nominate someone for the Greater Flint African American Hall of Fame, Ira Rutherford, Greater Flint African American Hall of Fame member of the year. When names are submitted, Hall of Fame members research the individual, with the help of the local library. A list of qualified nominees then is presented to a committee, who make the final selection on who will be inducted.

Volunteers greeted induction ceremony attendees and seated them. Kiona Henry, one of the volunteers, is grateful for having been able to further develop her skills in interacting with others in this way. She hopes it helps prepare her to attend an HBCU (historically Black college or university). Pictured are front row-Kiona Henry, Bryson Benton, Taylor Fields, LaNise Chilton Back row-Matthew Evans, Tommy Pickens, Malachi Evans
To Ira Rutherford, (Greater Flint African American Hall of Fame Member of the Year, pictured above), the induction ceremony is a time to celebrate outstanding Flint athletes’ history and a chance for people to fellowship. He also greatly appreciates the fact the Hall of Fame Committee now awards scholarships.
Linda Allen received a monetary award at the Greater Flint African American Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Everett Graham also received a monetary award at the recent ceremony.

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